Jan. 21, 2006
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Box Score |
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) - Northwestern's men's basketball team mounted a late second half comeback against seventh-ranked Illinois, but time eventually ran out on the 'Cats as the Fighting Illini held on to defeat the Wildcats in front of a sellout crowd at Welsh-Ryan Arena this afternoon.
Northwestern takes to the road at 6 p.m. this Wednesday when they battle Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind.
Dee Brown broke out of his shooting slump with 18 points and had eight assists.
After shooting a combined 9 of 39 in the previous three games, Brown was 6-for-10 and 2-for-5 from 3-point range, banking one from the top as the shot clock expired just over seven minutes into the game.
Rich McBride added 12 points, and Shaun Pruitt grabbed 10 rebounds for the Illini (17-2, 3-2 Big Ten).
Coming off a 62-60 loss Tuesday at No. 13 Indiana, Illinois hit 9-of-23 3-pointers.
Northwestern (9-8, 2-4) shot 35 percent (17-for-48) on its way to its fourth straight loss.
Mohamed Hachad scored all of his 14 points in the second half for Northwestern. Leading scorer Vedran Vukusic missed his first 13 shots and scored a season-low five points, his first game in single digits. His first basket was a 3-pointer that pulled Northwestern to within 53-43 with 1:34 left in the game.
But the Illini hung on.
Despite a 121-34 series advantage and a three-game sweep last season, Illinois has had some difficulties at Northwestern, losing by 10 two years ago. This looked like an easy one until the Wildcats made things interesting in the second half.
With Illinois up 46-21, Northwestern went on a 14-2 run to pull to within 48-35 with 4:28 left in the game. The Wildcats cut it to 12.
Then, Vukusic hit that 3 to make it a 10-point game. Otherwise, it was a quiet game for him.
The Big Ten's leading scorer at 20.9 points entering the game, shot 1-for-14 and had six rebounds.
Northwestern's Vince Scott scored 30 seconds into the game, but the Wildcats missed their next six field goals as Illinois opened a 13-4 lead. Brian Randle, McBride and Brown hit 3-pointers during that stretch, and Illinois never looked back.
With more than half the crowd of 8,117 decked out in orange, the Illini made themselves at home.
They picked apart Northwestern's 2-1-2 trap and took the Wildcats out of their offense. The Wildcats seemed flustered and did not get the ball to Vukusic in the post.
Northwestern went more than seven minutes between its first and second field goals, before Sterling Williams hit a 3 to make it 13-7, but Illinois took a 32-17 lead into halftime.
The only anxious moment for the Illini in the first half was when Randle cut his forehead when he fell trying to finish an alley-oop about nine minutes into the game. He returned with 2:03 left in the first half.